We applied for funding from the Norwich Opportunity Area Evidence Based Practice Fund in order to carry out the study. This project was embedded over the 2018-19 academic year with the key focus being the lexical density of Year 7 students’ written work; with accompanying evidence of curriculum plans reflecting the language pedagogy which was introduced to judge the teachers’ improved reflective use of language and explicit modelling as an integral part of their practice resulting in higher standards of higher academic literacy.
To address the language gap the CPD was delivered to specific departments over the course of the year. An initial launch meeting showed teachers the language capabilities of the pupils they had (support provided by a KS2 SLE), demonstrated the language features of different texts and provided some insight into how to model passages of writing supported by certain Cooperative Learning techniques; then the CPD became more bespoke in Triadic groups.
The decision to use triads was because a range of studies have found that the peer coaching will have a positive, statistically significant effect, in the success of CPD participant’s behaviours (Brenan, 2017). Triads were based around departments and included either the Head, Project Lead or Research Lead as one part of the three. This was to maximise buy-in from the members of staff, ensure that the professional development is maximised and access to best practice.
CPD Triads met to plan the Language for Learning features they needed to model, address how the outcome were to be achieved and identified pupils who represented the key groups (Pupil Premium, EAL and boys). Followed by reflection and feedback sessions with concrete development actions for future planning. This was a rolling programme as one triad finished the CPD and began the lesson study phase another group were then trained up.
The Project and Research leads developed resources, the CPD package and the research plan utilising further professional development on language pedagogy from Lexis Education. Additional pre-work to the project took place with the acquisition of writing samples for Greater Depth pupils so that the individual departments are aware of the Academic Language skills and form a baseline. The SLT was introduced to the new model, its main components and received CPD on how to identify some aspects in the classroom; this was reflected in the development of school systems such as Sewell Park Essentials, observation and lesson planning forms and in curriculum development plans.
In a half-term during whole school Inset the project was launched to the whole staff by the Project and Research leads. During the first half term triads were coached on the first set of key areas of the new methodology. Those areas were also supported during twilight and in triad coaching sessions before implementing into the curriculum. The identified triads were then rolled out over the course of the year with increasing linguistic awareness and range of outcomes identified in planning and student performance.